But soothing words from bankers and politicians can go only so far; a pick-up in business prospects is required to justify further progress.
April saw tentative signs of improvement in the world’s largest and second-largest economies. US and Chinese business confidence surveys signalled a chirpier mood, while cyclically sensitive industries defied doom-mongers with solid profit reports and reasonable outlooks.
Corporate earnings expectations are very beatable, with the bar having been set low, amid heightened recession fears in December. First-quarter earnings growth for S&P 500 companies have been cut by 10 percentage points since July. Before the first quarterly reports started to trickle out in early April, earnings were predicted to fall by more than 4 percent.
This decline would have been the sharpest since the first quarter of 2016. US multinationals, with more than half their sales derived outside their home market, were expected to fare even worse with earnings dropping more than 11percent. To widespread relief, Wall Street’s worst fears would appear unfounded as with almost half of S&P 500 quarterly reports now out, earnings growth is tracking to be almost flat - down only 1percent.